Huard: Will Ryan Neal see more playing time for Seahawks on defense?
Oct 6, 2022, 1:16 PM | Updated: 1:16 pm
(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
When the Seahawks lost All-Pro strong safety Jamal Adams for the season after he suffered a major hamstring injury in Week 1, it was Josh Jones who became Seattle’s starting strong safety over Ryan Neal.
Jones, 28, was a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2017 and is now with his fifth team in six years in the NFL. He signed with the Seahawks last December.
Neal, meanwhile, is 26 and was not drafted out of college. He’s been in Seattle since 2019, filling in at safety and as an extra defensive back at times.
But so far this year, the Seahawks have struggled defensively, allowing the second-most yards and points per game. Jones has been one of a few defenders that has stood out for the wrong reasons, namely missed tackles and bad angles in pursuit of ball carriers.
With Jones’ play leaving much to be desired, could we see more of Neal moving forward? Here’s what Seahawks defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt had to say about Neal this week.
“You’ll see him more and more at the safety spot and in dime,” Hurtt said. “Obviously, he’s done that for us in the past. We missed a lot of seeing him. He kind of fell into the shadows because of the injuries he had to deal with in training camp. But it was great to have him back out there again. He had some good stuff and things that he’ll continue to to get cleaned up leverage-wise and whatnot in coverage. So it was good to have him back out there.”
“Josh Jones has been given every opportunity since Jamal Adams’ injury to take this job and not give it away to a younger player. But Josh Jones has been with five organizations in six years for a reason,” Huard said. “Because, unfortunately, hitting in that alley, finishing tackles, limiting explosive plays. Things you have to do as a safety in this league, he’s just not done consistently enough.”
When Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll joined Brock and Salk Monday morning after Seattle’s 48-45 win over the Detroit Lions, he said that he and the coaches were looking at the team’s poor defensive numbers and were evaluating things. Huard’s first thought was Jones and that strong safety spot.
“He’s missed more tackles than anybody else on that defense. And the ones that he misses are explosive plays and touchdowns,” he said. “That’s just the nature of the beast when you play that position with what they’re doing in their scheme.”
Huard doesn’t think Jones needs to be an enforcer laying out huge hits like Seahawks legend Kam Chancellor, but he simply needs to tackle better, otherwise Neal needs to play.
“You need to come and you need to secure the tackle and you need to hold on for dear life and not give up those explosive plays. So yes, I think you will see more of Ryan Neal not only at dime, but – I don’t know about starting – but at the safety position for more and more snaps,” he said.
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